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Special illustration by Ludi Leiva.

Welcome to The Seedling, brought to you by the Uproot Project. 

It’s beginning to feel a lot like spring in Texas. To me, that’s synonymous with one thing: Wildflowers. In a few weeks, they’ll be blooming on the medians of roads, peeking out of cracks in sidewalks, and blanketing gentle hills and flat fields alike.

Spring has always been my favorite thing about living in the South. “One thing I have learned in my fourteen years in Texas is that the bluebonnets always bloom,” Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, Houston’s poet laureate wrote in March 2020 as we were thrown into the uncertainty of COVID-19. “These flowers find a way to beat all the odds, no matter how harsh the winter or how vicious the hurricane season.” 

I think of Mouton’s words every pandemic spring now, and sometimes, too when I’m in the weeds of a complicated story about regular people fighting against immeasurable odds: climate change, systemic racism, capitalism, and so on. I’m always inspired by the way that Uproot members' writing centers these themes in their work. 

This month, in Atmos, Agnee Ghosh writes about the tiger widows of the Sundarbans, who are preserving the world’s largest mangrove forest on the border of India and Bangladesh. For High Country News, Pauly Denetclaw took a deep dive into the politics of water rights along the Colorado River, and how private users and local governments have locked indigenous tribes out of claims to the life-giving resource. I reviewed an art exhibit in Dallas that tells the story of how one local activist moved a mountain and won the first of what may be several battles against business owners dumping pollution in a neighborhood, and the city leaders who let it happen.

At the end of this month, many of these stellar journalists will be talking about their work at the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual conference in Houston. I’m honored to be one of the Uproot Project’s fellows who will be in attendance. (If you’re going to the conference, sign up for the tour of Houston’s highway expansions that I’m co-leading!) 

It often feels like every climate story starts and ends in Houston: Decades of segregated pollution are now being exacerbated by the fossil fuel industry, which in turn is bringing stronger hurricanes and more frequent floods to the Gulf Coast and beyond. But here, if you look closely, you’ll almost always find stories of communities fighting for a better, cleaner future: One in which future generations can, against the odds, bloom and thrive.

-Amal Ahmed, Freelance Reporter
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What Are You Planting? 

Name: Richa Syal, Freelance reporter covering environmental crime published in The Guardian, Mongabay, among others.

What's one of your favorite pieces you’ve written? Why: From 1m trees to a tree graveyard: how Dubai’s conservation plans went awry  – This was the first piece of investigative work I’ve done since moving to Dubai. It details a widely-praised conservation plan announced in 2010 to plant 1 million trees, but was secretly demolished a couple years later to build wealthy residential and tourism hubs. It taught me a lot about the dynamics of reporting from this region, and I’m very proud of the story. 

What's a piece of advice you wish you could give to your younger self? Collaborate – don’t compete. It will offer you so much more value and you gain deeper mentorships, friendships and will understand how to navigate difficult topics in the industry. Amplify your friends, often. Their wins are not your losses. 

What’s your most essential ritual? A hot cup of chai every morning.

Read their work here!

Uproot Updates
  • It's officially been a year since The Uproot Project launched! Check out a letter from our director here.
  • We're hiring a part-time Operations Associate. Please share the application with your networks!
Job Opportunities
Uproot in the community 
  • Uproot is hosting TWO events at the SEJ conference in Houston this year. If you’re in the area or attending the conference, please stop by! Join us at the dinner meetup on April 1 or the breakfast meetup on April 2, 2022.
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